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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A cross-case study of three exemplary Developmental English instructors
by Givens, Susannah M., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2008, 395; 3297012
Abstract (Summary)

The purposes of this qualitative cross-case study were to (a) identify the instructional practices used by exemplary instructors of students in Developmental English courses and (b) explore the personal, professional, educational, and institutional factors that shape their practices. The research sites were three campuses of a community college in a large metropolitan area. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants: three full-time Developmental English professors identified by their supervising Academic Deans as "exemplary" instructors, each from a different campus.

Data included weekly classroom observations of each participant for a semester; in-depth, transcribed, semi-structured interviews; a demographic survey of participants; a short open-ended survey of the participants' Academic Deans; and documents including curricula vitae from the participants and course syllabi and materials from the participants. A short, anonymous, demographic survey of the students in each observed class was administered to provide an overall profile of the classroom populations. Field notes and reflections related to informal observations and interactions determined to be relevant to the study were recorded. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Both single-case analyses and a cross-case analysis were conducted.

Data revealed that the participants used a wide array of learning activities, instructional strategies, and assessments to create interactive and active learning environments and to address students' individual needs. The data suggest that five factors impact the instructors' teaching practices, including (a) their educational and professional experiences, (b) personal characteristics and life experiences, (c) student characteristics and the instructors' perceptions of their students, (d) beliefs about literacy, and (e) college and campus policies. Based on the results and existing literature, it can be concluded that Developmental English instructors face many instructional challenges resulting from the diverse cognitive, linguistic, and affective needs of their students. In addition to using effective teaching and assessment practices, they need to possess strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of literacy as a social and academic practice. They would benefit from more supportive, collaborative, and collegial environments; opportunities for ongoing, relevant professional development; and the development of more graduate training programs. Recommendations for practice, educational preparation, professional development, and research are included.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mazur, Amy
Commitee: Chamot, Anna U., Graham, Carolyn W.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Community colleges, Bilingual education, Multicultural education, Teacher education
Keywords: Community college instruction, Developmental English, Exemplary teachers, Professional development, Qualitative case study research, Teacher preparation and professional development
Publication Number: 3297012
ISBN: 978-0-549-43772-7
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